Hoeven, U.S. Senate Delegation Meet With Korean President, Foreign Minister About Increased Trade, Regional Security

Senator Meets with Doosan CEO Park Yong-maan on Bobcat Expansion, Kim & Price on New Beef Processing Facility in North Dakota

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Hoeven, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and an official delegation of U.S. Senators today met in Seoul, Republic of Korea with top Korean officials on both trade and security issues. 

The group met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan to promote the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement now awaiting ratification in the U.S. Senate. Hoeven met separately with top Korean business leaders to promote North Dakota commercial interests.  


The agreement will eliminate or reduce Korean tariffs on U.S. autos, manufactured goods, and agricultural products to South Korea’s 49 million consumers. Ratification of the pact will eliminate more than 85 percent of the tariffs between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and is expected to increase U.S. exports to that country by $10 billion. It will also open new markets for American services in South Korea, including energy.  

“This mutually beneficial trade agreement will increase the level of commerce between the United States and Korea, which was already our eighth largest trading partner in 2009,” Hoeven said. “From the U.S. perspective, it eliminates tariffs and opens Korean markets to more American products and services, including agricultural and manufactured goods, which will benefit North Dakota. Most importantly for our state and our nation, increased trade with Korea will help to create new opportunities for American businesses and new jobs for American workers at a time when they are greatly needed.” 

North Dakota –South Korea Projects Moving Forward 

Hoeven also met with individual South Korean business leaders to promote North Dakota commerce and job creation.  

On Tuesday morning the Senator met with Park Yong-maan, president of Doosan Infracore, parent of Bobcat Company, and Doosan CEO Tony Helsham about expanding the company’s economic presence in North Dakota. Founded in North Dakota, Bobcat is one of the world’s premier manufacturers of compact construction equipment and creator of the skid-steer loader.  

Currently, Doosan maintains Bobcat manufacturing operations at its Gwinner facility and an engineering office in Bismarck. Since 2009 it has increased the Gwinner workforce from 600 to more than 1000, and is considering further expansions in the state. Hoeven discussed with them both further expansion of the Gwinner facility as well as expanding into the Bismarck manufacturing facility based on their growth plans for the North American market.  

The Senator stressed the value of the Bismarck manufacturing plant, its quality workforce and its favorable business climate to the company as economies begin to recover in the United States and around the world. 

“Mr. Park and Doosan leadership recognize the quality of workmanship available to them in North Dakota, as well as the pro-growth business environment our state has fostered,” Hoeven said.  

At a second meeting Tuesday, the Senator met with Jack Kim and Bill Price, principals in Kim & Price Corporation. The company is a partnership between South Korean businessman Jack Kim, Chairman of FK Partners of South Korea, and North Dakota cattle producer Bill Price. Kim & Price is an international firm that is working to meet the demand of Korean and Asian consumers for quality North Dakota beef.  

Hoeven and his staff have been working with Kim and Price and North Dakota development officials to establish a new beef processing plant that would create about 500 new jobs in North Dakota and process beef from a multi-state region. Key to the project is successful completion of the U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement, which would phase out a 40 percent Korean tariff on American beef, making it more affordable to consumers and more cost effective for producers. Kim and Price told Hoeven the company is nearing a decision and will make an announcement on their plans to proceed within weeks. 

“This more than $100 million investment in North Dakota is not only a classic value-added model, but is also a great example of how free markets can both create jobs and provide consumers with a better quality product at lower cost,” Hoeven said. “South Korean consumers clearly want North Dakota beef, and given the more open market conditions that a U.S.-Korea trade agreement would create, we can help supply that demand for them and at the same time create good jobs for our state.” 


The Senators also discussed key security issues on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia with President Lee and Foreign Minister Kim, as well as senior Korean and U.S. military officials, including General Walter Sharp, commanding general of U.S. forces in Korea. The United States has maintained a military presence on the peninsula, including the Army’s Second Infantry Division and several Air Force squadrons, since 1953 in support of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty enacted in the aftermath of the Korean War. 

“Both the South Korean business leaders and government officials we met with, including President Lee, expressed their deep appreciation for the sacrifices of American soldiers, who have made possible the country they have today,” Hoeven said. “The United States clearly has vital economic and strategic interests in Korea’s national security, and it’s important that we in the Senate maintain an understanding of the challenges and needs of both the South Korean government and the U.S. military in light of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and belligerent defiance of the world community.” 

The Senate delegation will move on to Delhi, India Wednesday to meet with government and business leaders on trade and regional security issues.